Serres was born at Villeneuve-de-Berg, Ardèche. His brother, Jean de Serres, was a well-known French humanist and translated the complete works of Plato.
His book was notable for recommending winegrowers to plant 5 to 6 varieties in their vineyards to balance the risk of a crop failing, an early advocacy of crop rotation.
It also recommended métayage (sharecropping) so that cash tenants would take all the risks and thus demand lower rent, as hired labour is expensive to manage. Sharecroppers administer themselves and risks are divided with the landlord. According to him, only large landowners should take the risk of hiring labourers and running the estate themselves.